Months ago I did promise everyone pictures from our trip to England. I posted all of these on my facebook account, so many of you have probably already seen these. This is just a small glimpse into the many wonderful adventures that we had on this trip. It was the most fun thing we had ever done together as a family! I couldn’t imagine such a great two weeks.
I was just told last weekend that there are still some people who check this blog for updates, so I figured that I owe some of you faithful friends an update. Here are some of the highlights:
My last appointment at the clinic was September 16th. The nurses did extensive blood tests and everything came back normal. My blood is still all donor! No sign of leukemia, so I don’t have to think about cancer for three more months. I have been getting all of my immunizations again. Sometimes 4 shots at a time. I don’t have to get any boosters for a year now.
My energy level is better. I think I am up to full speed at work and with the family, but I don’t really ever feel like doing extra things. I still get overwhelmed in crowds after spending so much time alone for a year. Also, it is difficult to fall asleep.
Brad’s parents had their 50th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to one of the bravest and strongest couples that I know.
Micah and Noah are participating on their school soccer team. Micah is the manager and Noah is the goalie. This has taken much of our free time this fall, but it has been fun. Their last two games are this week.
We have started the process of looking for high schools for Micah. He has been at The Oaks Academy for nine years. It is a fabulous school where he has gotten a great education and learned about real life while developing lifelong friendships, so it will be strange not to have him there. Although I do think it will be good for him to be in a school where his mom doesn’t work! Noah’s turn will be the year after.
The Crossing, where we attend church, continues to be an adventurous journey full of struggles and joys. Brad is preaching every week. You can listen to his sermons online at thecrossingindy.wordpress.com
If you have read all the way through this post to the bottom, you will get to read some exciting news. Brad and I, along with the boys, are going to England in one week. This has been a lifelong dream of mine that I never thought would happen. I have always loved England and its literature and history and hoped to visit some day. Since I am in remission, the doctors gave me clearance to travel. We decided that it is a good thing to do, because you can’t predict the future.
We are all going for about two weeks during the boy’s fall break. We are staying in a 13th century coach house in the Cotswolds for the entire time and have planned day trips to various sites that are close such as Oxford, Bath, London and Stratford-upon-Avon. Thanks to all of our family and friends who have made this possible. We will be posting pictures and updates on this site while we are there.
Love to you all!
…Adventure. Today Brad and I are celebrating our 16 year anniversary. As you know, we really didn’t think we would make it this far… for a variety of reasons. So as we celebrate, I am pausing to reflect on what a fantastic guy Brad is and how I just am so blessed to have him in my life. Those of you who know me well, know that I am not a gushy emotional person usually, but Brad deserves some anyway.
It is wonderful to have a husband I admire for many qualities too numerous to list. He fights for justice and is not afraid to say what he is thinking, even if everyone disagrees with him. Brad is a person of integrity and believes in being truthful even in the midst of pain. He is loyal and has faith that can be inspiring. He doesn’t give up when things are tough, and life has been really tough some years. He is fun and makes me laugh. We can talk endlessly about serious topics and he always provides a different view for me to consider. I grow and learn being in relationship with him. What a privilege to be married to him.
Sixteen years can seem like a lifetime, but it also seem short to many who have passed this milestone.I am thankful for the good and bad. We have truly been married for better or worse, but I am the better for it. I posted this picture, because it reminds me of how Brad has been in the picture with me for so long, supporting me.
From Persuasion by Jane Austen
“But I hate to hear you talking so…as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all of our days.”
The first picture was taken a year and a half ago, and no, Brian and Kyle have not shrunk!
We had an incredible weekend in Chattanooga at my graduation from Covenant College. It was full of family, friends, a great ceremony and great new memories. I will post more later about it.
Some of you may not know that Laura is going to graduate with her masters in educational administration from Covenant College at Lookout Mountain, Georgia this Saturday. We will travel Friday and enjoy the festivities on Saturday. What an amazing milestone, especially what Laura’s had to battle this past year and a half. The boys and I are very proud of her for pushing through and not giving up in the midst of challenging circumstances.
We’ve celebrated the one-year anniversary of Laura’s bone marrow transplant and now we gear up for another celebration. As I’ve thought through the past year, I find myself grateful and amazed. At the same time, I’ve also had moments of tears. I took Laura out to dinner to celebrate her transplant anniversary and we were reminiscing about what life was like last year. She shared, “Remember when I had to carry around that backpack of fluid 24 hours a day and I had to take it to the restroom and had to sleep with it.” Some things I forget but some things I remember very well. What I do remember is putting all my energy into feeling hopeful and not giving up. One year later though, I’m finding that I still have some grieving to do about that time. So Sunday morning I spent about 15 minutes just crying and remembering how at times I felt very scared and sad.
I share that to let you know how Laura and I sometimes feel but also to teach you about how people grieve through painful and stressful situations. Sometimes our hearts can’t take everything at once so a we divert to a later time. Even a year later I still feel some pain. I’ll drive by the hospital sometimes and get tears in my eyes. Recently Micah and I were sitting at a Starbucks outside (imagine ME sitting at a Starbucks? :)). I asked Micah how he feels when he looks at the hospital which we could see from where we were sitting. He said he feels sad for mom and what she had to go through. We spent a little time talking about that and remembering. We need to do that occasionally just to keep close accounts on our hearts and make sure we grieve. I’ve been struggling with a lot of anger lately and part of it is related to keeping up with my emotions.
So the next time you go through a difficult time and it passes and you are thinking about it a year later, don’t be surprised if you need to take some time and cry. Crying and worshiping God are one of the most important ways to take care of our hearts well. Thanks as always for your responses to these entries and your encouraging words. You help lighten our hearts and remind us of how valued and loved we are. We love you!
At least that’s what my nurse said when she left a message. So I guess all of the big stuff is fine. No small feat. I really want to talk to someone and get the real numbers on a few items. I want to see if my liver function has improved at all. There is another number that tells how well my immune system is functioning. When this number dips below 500, it is dangerous for a patient to be exposed to anything in the environment that could make them sick. At my 3 month check-up this number was 40, and it was up to 170 at my 6th month check-up. I haven’t heard yet where this is. They also checked my thyroid functioning and different hormone levels. No results yet.
At the clinic last week, they took a bone density test. I did very well on this before my transplant, and I thought that maybe all of the chemo would have damaged my bones significantly; however, I was still off the charts on bone density (120th percentile). The doctor said that I would have to live to be 130 before I would show signs of osteoporosis. Maybe this is why I have never broken any bones – considering the daredevil lifestyle that I live.
The doctor continued to remind me that although all of this is good news, we still need to wait for a few more years to consider me cured. Most experts say 5 years without relapse can be considered a cure. The form of leukemia I have is particularly difficult to keep in remission when you are diagnosed after age 15. When I went for my original consult, they said that I probably had less than a 25% chance of beating the cancer without a bone marrow transplant. It was a difficult decision to make to go ahead and have the transplant. Many people die from the complications. Only about 50% make it to the one year mark. Overall, the transplant has given me about a 45% chance of not relapsing. Although I always remember that my story is not everyone else’s story and that I am a statistic of one. I either make it or I don’t (100% or 0%).
In many ways it is out of my hands. You don’t get leukemia from lifestyle choices, and I really feel that I have had some of the best medical care available. God knows exactly what my future holds, and I refuse to waste today by stressing about what might be in the future. Death is not the worst thing to face. It is the inevitable. The worst is to die without knowing what it feels to really be loved by God.
Thanks for reading my ramblings. I am going to post some crazy pictures. My hair keeps growing, and somehow I find myself missing bald – No planning what to do with my hair. Now I have to think about it.
I went to have all of my one year tests done last Wednesday, but the results haven’t come in yet. My nurse, Lisa, said to call in on Monday.
The kids at school made me awesome anniversary cards. I will have to post some of my favorites here tomorrow.
The boys made a video to send in for a contest to win $10,000 toward paying off my student loans. The deadline is tomorrow, so I am sure that we won’t win. Here is the link if you want to see the video.
Many of you remember that today is the one-year anniversary of Laura’s bone marrow transplant. We are so grateful for how God has continued to heal Laura and sustain her.
This past week I attended a Mobilization to End Poverty conference. During a workshop on The Economy and Poverty, one of the speakers shared about a new way for people to help each other through economically difficult times. He encourages what he calls “Common Security Clubs” where part of what takes place is a commitment from a group of believers to mutually aid one another in difficult times financially. As he spoke, I was reminded that this already existed in our lives here in Indianapolis. While we faced many challenges financially while Laura was going through the heaviest parts of her treatment, God provided through family and friends like you. Many of you gave money to help us, gas cards, meals, groceries, extra little gifts like Starbucks cards, among other things. I remember the many cards and posters hand made by kids from The Oaks Academy. I also remember the women who came and cleaned our home several times and the many ways people let us know they were praying for us.
As the workshop came to a close, I raised my hand and shared my story of what God did for us when Laura was ill. The speakers and the people at the workshop were moved and encouraged. I share this to say that I want to say thank you once again to all of you for your generous love and support through a difficult year last year. We could not have made it through without all of you. We look back upon the year with fond memories, all memories you created. We love you and praise God for His great love for us. We pray one day we can give to you as you have given to us.
With great gratitude in our hearts,
Brad (for Laura and the boys)